A reader recently posted a very detailed account of what it’s like working as a personal banker at Chase Bank in the forum.
I am re-posting it here on the homepage (with permission) so that more people can see it. I think it is important that prospective employees of Chase Bank get a first hand account of what they should expect if they go to work for the company. It’s a long read, but well worth it.
I recently left Chase after being a personal banker there for a little over a year. I wanted to share my experience, the good and the bad, with you so that you will be able to make an informed decision about joining the company. Hopefully, after reading my post, you’ll decide not to make that decision, and find something that will leave your soul intact.
After graduating from college, I was working in retail making close to minimum wage. I really did enjoy my job, but without the help of those student loans for living expenses, I wouldn’t be able to keep that job and pay the rent, so I began my search to find a job that would! I started looking at companies I could apply to online, that had a large presence in my area. Chase popped up everywhere. They will always have more opportunities than any other institution on CareerBuilder, Monster, their website, etc. This should have been a red flag to me. If they constantly have that many positions that means that many people are constantly leaving (the turn around with Chase is very high). Granted, Chase is constantly expanding, but the rate they are expanding versus the open opportunities just don’t match up. I looked right past this and I saw that as my opportunity to land that job with a big name company that would put a roof over my head and groceries in the fridge.
I applied to a personal banker position since I fit the background requirements. You’ll need a strong background in retail and sales. You don’t need a college degree for this job, which always irritated me. Why did I get myself into all this debt and work so hard for 4 years of my life, so I can be making the same as the guy with just a high school diploma sitting next to me?
Most people think bankers (a term I use loosely, I never felt like a “banker”, it’s much more of a glorified car salesman position) make a lot of money. Truth is, we get paid very little, especially when you take into consideration what we have to deal with. All PB’s, regardless of age, education, or experience start out at Chase making the same base. It may be higher in some of the more expensive areas, but in general, it was 32K. That equals out to about $15 bucks an hour. You will have the opportunity to make commission, which is heavily taxed at 30%. So all in all, if you are hitting your sales goals, after taxes, you’ll be bringing in about $2,700 a month. Not horrible, but if you don’t make your goals you are looking at a solid $2,000 a month. Way less than I imagine the general population thinks we make.
If you don’t know what a position of a personal banker entails, let me briefly describe it for you. As a PB (personal banker) you will be working on the retail side of banking. Sure, you’ll be dealing with customers who come in and have questions about their account or need some advice on financial products (most of the time you’ll be interacting with angry customers about Chase’s ridiculous fees for their services, but that’s a different story). However, usually you will be trying to make a sale by stalking customers in the lobby, or calling a list of customers in the area to see if they would be interested in coming in and talking to you about the newest product or promotion. It’s not really a banking position, you are just a sales person whose job is to push products and services on whoever walks through that door.
I understand Chase is a business, and what cuts our paychecks and keeps the doors open are the sales of its products. However, the tactics Chase uses to make these sales are unmoral. To their benefit, I do understand the general theory of what this institution is trying to accomplish. They are wanting to make walking into a Chase branch an “experience”. They want their clients to feel welcomed, have a short and efficient visit, and leave smiling. However, they are using ridiculous, cheesy tactics to make this occur. You’ll have morning huddles every morning that will consist of your fellow PB’s, yourself, and some tellers. You’ll find at these meetings the same topic, called the “customer experience” is beaten to a bloody pulp by going over the same thing over and over and over again. I am not stretching the truth one bit when I say that many of these huddles have consisted of us making lists of different small talk topics we can discuss with a client such as the weather, their new shoes, if they are on lunch break, or their new purse.
It also consisted of where we should stand when greeting a customer that will look the most professional, the way we should say hello. The tone in our voice, etc. I wish I could say I was lying, but I’m not. I consider myself very personable, and able to talk to customers in a way that will leave them feeling welcomed. Some customers are ok with just a warm hello, and want to go on their way to make the deposit. Other customers are more than happy to have this small talk conversation with you. But those customers are a rare 25%. The rest of the customers are bothered by your over exaggerated chipperness. Chase needs to back off with the pressure to be overly friendly, and let us bankers find a comfortable medium where we will come off as sincere. Customers see right through this nonsense.
I heard before I began at the bank that the sales focus was even worse. They just started to try to “focus on the customers instead of sales” recently. I can’t imagine how much worse it was before I started at the bank, but I don’t think I would have even lasted a day in the old environment.
Chase will tell you they’ve got rid of the scripting, however, they will tell you down to the smallest detail what to say, and then say “but feel free to make it your own”. Essentially, making it your own is throwing in a unique greeting, or maybe changing the order of the words. It is still very scripted.
I do feel bad for most of the branch managers at Chase. Most of them are good people who have just been beaten down and brain washed by this company. I’ve had the pleasure (another term I use loosely) of working at a few different branches. I’ve worked in a large, high volume branch, and a very small, low volume branch. I’ve found the tactics, atmosphere, and overall suck factor is still the same regardless of your location or team.
Chase branches are VERY VERY VERY VERY (did I say VERY?!) highly micromanaged environments. There will not be a day where your branch manager or assistant branch manager are not breathing down your neck, watching you make sales phone calls, or greeting customers. I consider myself to be a trust worthy employee, I work best when I’m not getting stalked to do my job. It almost makes me want to do the opposite and not do a thing because I get so frustrated. I always felt like I had eyes watching and ears listening and judging every conversation or interaction I had with a client. I can’t explain it, but the micromanaging is ridiculous there. You won’t really know what I mean until you experience it for yourself.
For those of you who want to know a little more detail about my experience, read on! For those of you who don’t feel like reading my rant, just take away this! Chase made me mental and physical health suffer. I gained weight, I got depressed, I lost touch with family and friends. All for a stupid $15 an hour sales job. If you’re where I was a few years ago, you’re reading this but don’t have the courage to get out while you can. You want to experience it for yourself because it can’t be that bad. Take my advice and find another job! If I can save one person from subjecting themselves to this slave labor, my work here is done! If you’re taking the job because you are interested in banking, still a wrong move. Your day will consist of badgering people to make a sale, and greeting customers. You will be more of a Wal-Mart greeter and a cars salesman just conveniently located in a bank. This isn’t a stepping stone to advancement. Chase has many higher up positions (in fact, the PB’s of Chase are the laughing stock of the rest of JP Morgan Chase), but these positions have strict requirements. They’ll fill your head about being able to advance, but regardless of how great you are with clients, how skilled you are in your job, if you don’t hit the sales numbers for months and months in a row, don’t even think about ever being able to leave your measly PB position.
Now, Chase does have great benefits as far as insurance goes. I paid about $40 a month for mental, dental, and vision. They have a 401K that they will start matching you up to 5% after a year, and provide life insurance. You’ll get a few discount perks (nothing major) on online shopping, and a free employee account with free checks and a free savings account. Chase does offer a few good products, don’t get me wrong. Their online system is the best in the industry, their ATM’s are located everywhere, and their freedom credit card is one of the best in the industry. I did also form a few good friendships while I was there. I’ve never met a banker who was happy in their position. We all day dreamed about leaving, bitched about how much we hated our jobs, and formed a sense of camaraderie over our misery. For most, the position sucked them in. The economy’s hard, this job pays the bills, and personal misery be damned they were staying. I felt trapped for a long time, but after realizing I’ve stopped living my life because I’m so mentally mind fucked by the end of the day, all I want to do is sleep on the couch and eat, I finally realized I needed to get out NOW!
So I did the unthinkable and resigned without another position lined up. Stupid? yes, but also freeing? yes. I’ve been on a few interviews, and when they get to my part of the resume that has Chase, they will say something along the lines of “I had a few good friends that worked there/or I used to work there, no further explanation on why you left is necessary”. It’s that bad. It has this horrible rep for a reason. I recently had a recruiter who works for another financial institution tell me that they felt so free when they left Chase, and its’ a good thing I left. I’ve never found a company with such a reputation. Every banker you meet will be miserable and seeking for another job. Even many of the loan officers and financial advisers, who are more partners working in your branch versus being employed by Chase, are unhappy since everyday they are subjected to this shitty environment.
You will have a crappy work schedule. You will NEVER have a Saturday off. You will have one day off during the week, and Sunday off. Saturday is a short day, so the rest of the days you work you are working 9 or 10 hour shifts to make up for that short day. That may not seem so bad, but when you are at Chase for 9 or 10 hours, you’d kill for Saturday to have normal business hours so you could just go home and have some time to have a life the rest of the week! Those who have stuck it out long enough to have seniority will work in the morning, 8 to 5. The rest of you will work 9 to 6 or 9 to 7. You won’t have two small 15 minute breaks. All you will get is a 30 minute (sometimes 45 minutes to an hour depending on the branch) lunch break. They used to work us for 6 hours straight without one break just because our state law says you can do so. If you run to the break room to grab a quick bite of a granola bar because you’re going to pass out, I’ve seen people have to stay late one day as punishment. So get ready to work long days with basically no breaks. You’ll constantly want to bang your head against the wall every morning. I can’t tell you how many times on my way to work I just wanted to drive my car into a tree (sound dramatic? you haven’t worked for this company. just wait).
I’m sure by now you’ve read about the 123 drill and working the lobby! Working the lobby is literally trying to take each and every customer that comes in to your desk. Then you execute the 123 drill. This is making sure their home address, phone number, work location, and email are correct. Then you also want to make sure they are in the right accounts. Seems decent in theory, but in reality, that person at your desk only came in to make a deposit, and were just asked if everything was correct in the system a week ago. They are annoyed, in a hurry, and you feel the anxiety building as you’re trying to make a sale so your BM will get off your back, but they are sitting there texting on their phone not listening to a word you are saying. Chase states working the lobby is great for the customers because this is a way to look out for their best interests by keeping them up to date in their accounts. False, this is a way to have your entire profile in front of us so we can look into your account to find ways to sell you something. Working the lobby is a mind numbing and awkward experience. Many customers in line try not to make eye contact while you’re walking up to them so you’ll leave them alone. You feel like a vulture, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
PVC’s are personal value credits, and the way you earn commission. Everything you sell has a credit. For example, a checking account is 20 credits. These values are always changing so Chase can make it harder to meet your goals. Anyway, At the end of the month, if you’ve made enough credits ( usually 1,000) you will get commission (taxed at 30%) on next month’s paycheck. I was a top seller at my previous company, but since I couldn’t badger people to get things they didn’t need, or credit cards when they are already in debt, I rarely made my goals. I was bringing in about 700 PVC’s each month. It’s impossible to hit 1,000 without closing a mortgage that month. So you’ll be doing a lot of calling to people with mortgages to see if they want to refinance. This will be your bread and butter to get paid. However, Chase just literally cut in half what you make on loans, so now it will be even that much harder to meet your goals and make commission.
I felt anxious all day at my job, and depressed as soon as I got home. I remember being jealous of client’s I sat with as they talked about their jobs. I remember wishing I could just walk out that door with them. This isn’t normal. I’ve always been a very hard worker, and loved working! I worked full time during school, and usually was working close to 60 hours a week. I was the person you could call when you didn’t feel good to come in. Now, I dreaded work, and my days off were like heaven to me. Everyone else felt this way as well. It’s like the plague. You will hate your job, and you will dread going to work more than anything you’ve ever dreaded before in your life. Trust me.
There is training for this position as well. Paid training which is nice. You’ll be in a classroom setting with other PB’s close to your start date, and will spend about 8 hours learning about products, sales tactics, role playing, etc. I used to love training because it was a break from the real world of personal banking. Role playing is something you will do every day in training, but more importantly, every day in your branch. ROLE PLAYING IS THE DEVIL! You’ll take turn with your fellow coworkers while the branch is dead, or at the morning huddle, to take turns being the banker, the customer, and the teller. You’ll do this in front of everyone else, specifically your branch manager or distract manager if they are visiting. Then you’ll have the pleasure of getting everything you did criticized down to a tee. It’s such a fake conversation while role playing, and so ridiculous. I hated role playing, it was the vain of my existence.
I’m not a bitter employee ranting about just all the negatives. I left Chase on good terms, and appreciate the name being on my resume. They did screw me over in one aspect, and since I don’t want to give too much detail on here about it, all I’ll say is that I was supposed to get a bonus I earned during the three months I was there before I left. I was set to get that bonus at the end of the month I was leaving. Since I was leaving one day before the bonus was set to get paid, I didn’t’ get it. I was actively employed all three months while earning the bonus, but they found a way not to pay me since I was leaving 12 hours before that bonus was supposed to hit my account. That, my friends, made me very bitter. But I can promise you what I just told you was my experience 100%. If there was any good to my experience I tried to include it.
Right before I left, Chase is giving their employees what they call “wow” cards. It’s a small business card that on the front says “wow, I’m sold on you!”, and on the back has Chase’s website and recruiters phone number for the respective area. We are supposed to hand these out to employees that we think did a great customer service job while we are out and about. For example, if we go to Wal-Mart, and the cashier there was super friendly, we are supposed to ask them, and I quote “are you happy with your job? I was sold on your customer service. I think you’d be a great fit with chase”, and hand them the card. HOW DESPERATE IS THIS COMPANY FOR EMPLOYEES? DEAR GOD!
Overall, all I can do is warn you not to take this position. You will end up miserable, one way or another. If you have had similar experiences, or just want to bitch please feel free to reply to this post! If you have any questions for me about the job, I’ll be checking the replies on here and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have. I wish had been able to do that before I took the position.
Also, there’s a YouTube video I found, though you will find many that shows exactly what I had to deal with in the days leading to my leaving. It’s a funny video, and I recommend watching it.
Take care, and good luck to anyone still employed with Chase! You’re in my prayers!